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I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Aisling Leonard knows how personal decorating a home can be for someone, especially during the holidays. She’s the creative mind behind Ash Leonard Design, so she’s used to helping people create spaces that perfectly fit their lifestyles. Having moved to St. Louis from Ireland, she also understands how important it is to make a space feel like home. Not surprisingly, her Ladue home truly shines during the winter months, providing the perfect backdrop for making holiday memories.

How was your experience moving to St. Louis?
My husband, our twin girls and I moved here from Dublin nearly 10 years ago. We didn’t know anyone in the area, but we now are very fortunate to call St. Louis home. It has been such a warm and welcoming place from day one, and it has more similarities to home than not. We were told before we arrived that people would be more interested in what high school you went to than what college. That is 100% the same in Ireland. I’m often asked what it is like to live in St. Louis, and the first thing that always pops into my head is that it’s ‘easy living.’ How fortunate are we to be able to say that in these challenging times? The ‘easy living’ is the kindness that we were shown by so many, and the ease of accessing all of the vibrant arts, culture and food scenes … and nothing is more than 20 minutes away!

What attracted you to the property?
The main thing was the outdoor spaces. There are lots of trees, and I love the European feel of a nice country back garden. In Ireland, we lived near the beach, so with the pool, it’s nice to have water right outside the door again. It’s also not a massive home and doesn’t have a cookie-cutter feeling—it’s homey with a lot of character and quirks to it. It feels older than its 1930s build, which suits us since in Ireland we lived in homes that were hundreds of years old.

How do you approach design?
As a designer, my own home is usually last on my list. I like to surround myself with things that I like. I don’t follow any trends, and a lot of pieces are antique or came from family. Every space is unique, and as I walk through the house, I love how each room has a bit of personality.

Do you have a favorite room?
I love our kitchen. It’s large with a vaulted ceiling and lots of light thanks to a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the garden. I also love the master bath. It’s not a huge room, but it’s all done in marble, so it’s really classic and timeless. The outdoor spaces are great as well. The garden is lovely in the summer.

How do you approach decorating for the holidays?
I love to have Christmas in every room. Both my husband’s and my families come stay with us during the holidays, so it’s an important time for us, and we have a lot of traditions. The trees are my main focus. We always have two. I have more antique pieces than ones that were purchased new. Some of them came from parents; now, they’re giving things to my daughters. But I also love to go to local shops in Clayton and Ladue and find new things. Twigs and Moss is a really good resource.

Do you entertain often?
We love to entertain. It’s always been an open house with people coming and going, especially during the holidays when we always have people over for cocktails or to bake cookies. Our kitchen is the heart of the home where nearly everything happens, and everyone congregates there. I love to use the formal living room for cocktails because it’s beautiful with the tree in there. We have lots of dinner parties. I always set a formal dining room, and the table decorations are some of my favorites. Dressing the table is such a treat!

Any favorite holiday pieces?
For many years, my mom has been giving me Newbridge Silver ornaments. They are particularly special because they come from back home in Ireland. Every year, I decorate one tree with silver baubles, and there is a story behind each one.

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